Group berates ICPC for ‘harassing’ journalist

The group says the ICPC is allowing itself to be used as a tool.

A human rights group has berated the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, ICPC, for allowing itself to be used to “harass” a journalist.

The Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said that the presidency has used the anti-graft agency to go after an Abuja-based Journalist, Tom Chiahemen, over his alleged professional business interest with Oby Ezekwesili, former Education Minister.

Mr. Chiahemen, the Editor-in-Chief of National Accord newspaper, has, however, debunked claims of a ‘personal’ business relationship with the former minister.

The journalist stated that Cattigan Communications Limited, a company he had stakes in, was appointed to handle advertisement placings on behalf of the Education ministry during Mrs. Ezekwesili’s tenure.

In a statement on Tuesday, HURIWA accused the presidency of using ICPC to “witch hunt” opponents, referring to the much publicised feud between Mrs. Ezekwesili and the presidency.

“Why, for instance, has ICPC not gone after FCT officials for proposing to use a whopping N4 billion of public fund to finance the building of the official complex of the African First Ladies Mission even when this body is unknown to the Nigerian Constitution?” the group asked in the statement.

The group further said that the ICPC’s recent questioning of Mr. Chiahemen in the absence of his lawyer was “a clear subterfuge to send some ominous signals to the prime target, Mrs. Ezekwesili.”

“We are not against lawful probe of alleged financial indiscretion by statutory bodies so clothed with the powers to so do but we frown at situations whereby the anti-corruption agency will have to wait to be used as an attack dog by the Federal Government against perceived political opponents,” said the statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf.

The group directed the ICPC, as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to “dispassionately” investigate Mrs. Ezekwesili’s claims that the Federal Government squandered U$45 billion.

“ICPC must be professional and stop this regime of witch-hunt,” the statement added.

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